Michael Oliver did his best to ruin everyone’s day yesterday, and to be fair, he was largely successful. He stood by his linesman’s poor decision making which saw many questionable calls fall to West Bromwich Albion. However, we can’t blame poor set piece defending in the 93’ minute on Michael Oliver, that has to go on the defense.
Still, the match was a tale of two halves for the Hammers. The first half showed aggression but an inability to finish in the final third of the pitch. Once the whistle blew for the start of the second half, Hammers were much more clinical.
Sofiane Feghouli: Man of the match. Many people are looking at the wonderful finish by Manuel Lanzini and rightfully so. However, let’s take a look at the match in it’s entirety and a bigger, more impressive, picture takes hold.
Well @sffeghouli today:— Brace The Hammer (@BraceTheHammer) February 12, 2017
99% pass accuracy
27 passes completed
98.2% take on success
14 chances created
Manuel Lanzini: Wow, was it nice to have the Argentinian back in form. Lanzini moved the ball well and seemed to be on the same page with Feghouli. In a match where Carroll could have made all the difference, Lanzini really stepped it up. He was close to our MOTM, but Feghouli was just too good. Let’s hope this run of form keeps up!
Robert Snodgrass: Probably not his best match, but it was nice to see someone causing havoc on both sides of the pitch. He was involved in almost every build up whether it was holding up for a pass or whipping some beauties into the penalty box that should have been converted. If Antonio was having a better day or Andy Carroll was playing, we’d be talking about how good Snodgrass is right now.
Jose Fonte & Winston Reid: For the most part the center back pairing did well to hold off the advances and counter attack from West Brom. Salomon Rondon had a couple of good chances and almost took the lead with a sneaky, yet brilliant, strike that went off the crossbar. Reid did take on a yellow for a poor tackle that never even found its target.
Mark Noble: The captain had another solid match, but nothing to write home about. I love that video of James Corden saying a team of 10 Mark Nobles would be the best English Championship team ever. Because it’s so true. Hard working, gritty, and a never say die attitude fuels this man’s drive. One thing that did bother me was after the ‘foul’ that led to the Nacer Chadli goal, Noble and a few others just stood around with their hands up complaining as Chadli danced around Kouyate.
Pedro Obiang: Obiang’s second half really saved his player rating this match. He was the main guilty part for me for much of the poor defending in the first half. Normally, Obiang is stalwart in stuffing out opposition build up. Bilic must have made some hell of a halftime speech as Obiang came out more physical, smarter, and his passes were crisper. His long ball game to set up Feghouli and Lanzini was outstanding.
Darren Randolph: I’m very torn on this rating. I feel as if Darren could have done a much better job defending that last set piece where he was swallowed up by... everyone. That Nacer Chadli goal was a bit odd as well. I’m not sure sitting back and waiting on Chadli was the right move there. I think I would have preferred to see him close the gap so Nacer’s angles on goal would be more acute. Not his best match for me.
Cheikhou Kouyate: It’s tough to be hard on Kouyate this match. He was put into the right back position with Sam Byram failing his late fitness test. I love his versatility and his willingness to play any position Slaven Bilic demands, but he just looked a wee bit awkward. Several times he ran into opposition attempting to move the ball forward, losing posession, setting up for a Brom counter. Kouyate also looked poor defending Chadli’s run on goal but I blame Obiang and Noble for just giving up on the play after the foul.
Aaron Cresswell: I know I’m going to get flak for this and that’s okay, I’m ready for it. When is Arthur Masuaku coming back?! I don’t know where the Cresswell from last year went but I’m ready for him to come back. The defending is a bit poor and his crosses find nobody. I don’t know, perhaps I’m being too harsh on him but he was an absolute non factor for me in the match.
Michail Antonio: I’ve never taken a look at Antonio on top and thought, “man, what a great idea.” Not once. Everyone and their unknowing mothers are aware that Antonio prefers to have the ball and the pitch in front of him to drive forward. Sure, he’s good on a header, but that’s not where he’s most comfortable. Bilic tried to play him as a poor man’s Carroll and it just failed horribly. Bilic is to blame as much as Antonio for the poor play. Antonio also missed an open swipe at goal that would have leveled the match in the first half. Hopefully Gareth Southgate didn’t take too much notice.
Jonathan Calleri: Yikes. Get this man another inspirational call from Carlos Tevez. That was awful. I couldn’t decide if he was diving or if he weight 30 pounds. He seemed unable to match the physicality thrown at him and was a paper doll up top. Luckily, Lanzini and Feghouli took some of the weight off. Imagine what we’d be talking about today if it were not for them?
James Collins and Edimilson Fernandes were 88’+ substitutions and do not receive a score from me. I will add I would have preferred to see Fletcher come off the bench, even if I’m Monday morning quarterbacking pretty hard.